Stabbing scene

Law enforcement officials investigate the scene at the Promenade on the Peninsula in Rolling Hills Estates where a woman was found stabbed to death the afternoon of May 3, 2018 in the parking structure of the shopping mall. (Photo by Nathan Percy/Daily Breeze-SCNG)

A woman in her mid-60s was found stabbed to death Thursday afternoon in a vehicle parked at the tranquil Promenade on the Peninsula shopping mall in Rolling Hills Estates, authorities said.

In the first homicide on the Palos Verdes Peninsula in nine years, the woman had been stabbed multiple times and her throat had been cut, said Vanessa Lozano of the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

Mall patrons found the woman before 12:30 p.m. in her newer-model SUV in the parking structure of the three-story, open-air shopping mall on Deep Valley Drive, according to Lt. Rodney Moore of the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau. Identified only as a white woman in her mid-60s, she was pronounced dead when firefighters responded.

It was unknown whether the woman was the victim of a robbery, Moore said. Authorities do not have a suspect description, and no witnesses have come forward.

Vehicle break-ins have been known to happen in the parking structure, according to Sammy Weiss, 17, a Palos Verdes High student and Rancho Palos Verdes resident. She and her friends frequent the shopping center to watch movies and hang out, Weiss said.

Moore also didn’t know whether security cameras in the parking structure captured the stabbing.

Sheriff’s deputies blocked off access to the parking structure, leaving some shoppers unable to retrieve their vehicles.

Nathan Smith, manager of the Good Stuff restaurant located near the parking structure, said he was working when he noticed deputies scrambling around to set up a perimeter. Shortly after, he said, deputies told him they were investigating a homicide and that they would be there awhile.

“It’s crazy, you just never think something like this would happen here,” he said. “It gets you to start asking questions you’d never think you would ask.”

Violent crime is rare in Rolling Hills Estates, a quiet, affluent city on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. The city has not seen a homicide since 2009, when an attorney was shot execution-style outside his home.

Residents were shaken hearing news of a brazen stabbing in broad daylight.

Rolling Hills Estates Mayor Britt Huff called the incident “unbelievable.”

“The shocking thing is that it happened in a public parking lot,” she said. “Someone was left midday in a parking lot to die.”

The city released a statement notifying residents of the homicide investigation, saying “Rolling Hills Estates is a very safe community and incidents like this are highly unusual.”

Bloodhounds were brought in Thursday evening to try to pick up any scents around the crime scene. By 9 p.m. authorities were still investigating the scene around the woman’s vehicle.

No further information was immediately available.

Staff writers Megan Barnes and Valerie Osier contributed to this report.

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